Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
I received the following e-mail in response to my blog on Devin Baehr and the Franklin Little League:
FISCHER’S JUNE 23 POST IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF WHAT’S WRONG WITH BLOGS
While I understand blogs are opinioned based, I would have expected a more fair and balanced story from someone like you. I thought you were not the typical blogger who writes wild accusations and speculation just to get a little attention, but after reading your June 23 post, I have to re-evaluate my opinion of you. I can’t believe you would rush to publish such an article based on the accusations of a disgruntled parent and the comments from a 12 year-old boy who is obviously being told it’s okay to quit when things don’t go your way. Let’s examine your post and shed some light on the other side of the story – the side you failed to even make phone call to fact check.
1. Your headline, “…a perfect example of what’s wrong with Little
League”. As a reader of your blog from time to time, I was surprised to see that you have these deep-seated feelings that there are problems with Little League baseball. When was the last time you were at a Little League game in
2. Devin Baehr is a very good Little League pitcher. No question
about it. His stats as reported by his Dad are very impressive. Is he the best pitcher in the Franklin Little League (FLL), that’s debatable.
Who is the best pitcher in Major League Baseball today? I may say it’s Zach Greinke of the Royals and you may say it’s Tim Lincecum of the Giants. That’s the beauty of baseball and all sports – everyone has their idea and notion on “who’s the best”. You and Carl Baehr do not have access to the scorebooks from the other teams and therefore can’t make the proclamation that Devin is the best pitcher in the FLL.
3. Great parenting by Carl in telling his son that it would be
“ridiculous” if he didn’t make the all-star team BEFORE Devin even stepped on the playing field. Talk about filling the child with false hope. What if he suffers a sub-par season? What if other kids have progressed more than Devin did? How about telling your son or daughter, “If you work hard and do the right things, good things could happen to
you and if not, we’ll keep trying”? That’s tantamount to me telling my
son, who has read three books this summer, “That will be ridiculous if you don’t get an A in reading class next year”.
4. All-Star players in the FLL are selected based on their pitching
statistics, hitting statistics and ability to play several different positions. Little League rules prevent a pitcher from pitching a certain amount of pitches per game, so the ability to play other positions is a factor. I find it very, very interesting that not once in your post or in the flyer that was attempted to be distributed by Carl, were Devin’s batting statistics noted or the ability of him to contribute at other positions. I have spoke with Devin’s former manager and was told he was hitting in the mid .200’s. Funny how that stat is overlooked by you and Carl.
5. Is the all-star selection completely objective? The answer is
“no”. Can it ever be 100% objective? That answer is “no” as well. For those of you who do not know how the system works in the FLL, including you and Carl, here’s a brief description: a meeting is held and each manager nominates as many kids from his team whom he/she feels is deserving of all-star consideration. The manager then tells the others about that players stats (hitting, pitching, number of errors, etc.), what positions the player can handle and also may include personal observations such as “the player is a good kid who listens and wants to learn and doesn’t cause any trouble in the dugout”. I was told by several managers at the meeting that his manager said nothing but positive things about Devin as a person. After all of the players have been nominated, each manager then votes for who he/she feels are the top 10 players. A manager may not vote for his own players. The 10 ten vote-getters automatically make the team. The all-star manager then selects 3 players to round out his roster to a total of 13 players.
Where does the subjectivity come in? Right where Carl thinks how the players should be selected – “solely on performance”. This is the why the system isn’t perfect. Every manager scores a game differently from the next. There are no official scorer’s in Little League baseball regular season games. It’s a Dad in the dugout with a scorebook and pencil tracking the game as he sees it. Go up to the FLL and ask each coach how he scores a game. You will get many different answers. I manage a Junior team (13 through 15 year-olds) and I score the game as if I’m watching a high school or college game. A hit is a hit, an error is an error. Ask a manager in the Major division, in which Devin used to be a part of, and you will get the same answer that I provided AND you will get a response of “well, if the kid hits it hard and sure, the shortstop should have made the play but I’ll score it a hit anyway”.
What’s my point? Simple. I’ve attended 8 all-star selection meetings in the past and I’ve heard managers tell other managers that “Billy is hitting .800, has five home runs, 68 RBI’s and has thrown a no-hitter”.
All not true, but that manager is quick to pull out his scorebook and attempt to show you otherwise. You do the best you can with the stats and info provided to you and hope you’re making the right decisions.
Basing the selection strictly on performance is impossible at this level due to the inequities involved by subjective scorekeeping.
6. Being selected as an all-star is a big honor for a kid, no
question there. However, once again your facts are incorrect. They are not given a “special jersey and plaque”. Each parent is required to purchase the jersey and a trophy is given to each player at the end of the season. Small points indeed, but just following the format of your blog.
7. The FFL Complex is not public property and anyone wishing to
distribute anything at the complex must get permission. Carl did not seek permission from our President or from any other Board member to hand out flyers. If I don’t agree with one of your blogs, would it be acceptable to you if I posted flyers on your front door, trees and car?
8. You allude to the parents who selected the team as being “petty,
personal jealous parents unjustly and unfairly standing penalizing a deserving young boy and depriving him of what he has word so hard for and has rightfully earned”. I know Carl feels the same way, based on his inane diatribe you call a flyer. All I can say is shame on both of you for making these types of comments. What a big slap in the face to the kids who did make the team! You and Carl have no idea on the other player’s stats, strengths and successes on the field. How do you both know that Devin is not one of the top 13 kids in the league? What would your thoughts be if you found out that Devin finished 14th in the voting
and missed the team by one vote?
9. Let’s talk about “role models” and “being a man” as you wrote.
The FLL President and Devin’s manager contacted Carl to meet face-to-face to discuss the situation, rather than to bash each other via a series of emails. Devin was present at the FLL complex when they met. Carl declined to shake hands with the President and when the President said to Carl, “Let me explain the all-star selection process to you”, Carl angrily waved him off and said that he “didn’t want to hear it”. When the President then said “I guess this ends the conversation”, Carl responded by calling him a “f-ing idiot”. It takes a “role model” and a “man” to refuse a handshake, not listen to a rational explanation to start the conversation and then end things with expletives and name-calling. All in front of his son. Did Carl tell you what he yelled to his son, after Devin was accidently hit by a pitch in a game – a very common occurrence in youth baseball. Carl yelled out to Devin to “remember his number” so Devin could retaliate later. This was said so loudly that the umpire at the game had to warn the
10. The problem we have in our society is we have too many people running around screaming the sky is falling, yet none of those same people ever offer a solution to help. Simply stating “let it be based on performance” is simply not achievable as I pointed out earlier. I’ve been on the FLL Board of Directors for 10 years. Our meetings – the first Tuesday of every month – are open to the public. Yet, in my 10 years, not one person ever came to a meeting to voice their concerns or offer a solution in regards to an all-star program. That tells me there is no problem. Instead, they run around town complaining about the “good old boys” (which is laughable to say to the least), distribute flyers saying their son is the only reason their team wins or they contact bloggers who rush to judgment and have zero knowledge of the topic at hand. The FLL Board is a group of mom’s and dad’s doing trying to do their best in running the state’s largest Little League program.
If people think otherwise, then I implore them to be part of the solution and run for a Board position next September.
In the future, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding the FLL. I think you’ll come across as more credible and accurate reporter if you look for both sides of a story and think before posting blogs loaded with falsehoods and inaccurate information.
In closing, I will once again use your words to illustrate my point.
You wrote, “Do the honorable thing, explain to your child that this is part of life, and congratulate the other child”. I think Carl Baehr is the one who needs to heed this advice. You may want to think about it too.
Thanks, David, for your thoughtful response. Catchy title, by the way. Here’s my reaction to all of your points:
1) I have no deep feelings about Little League. I’ve actually been heavily involved in youth sports for over 40 years and thus, love Little League. My title is a reference to how parents can, and all too often do, spoil what should be a wonderful experience for youngsters by getting too involved.
Haven’t been to a Franklin LL game in awhile, so congrats, you got me there. Haven’t been to a Packer game in ages, either. Guess I should keep my Brett Favre opinions to myself.
2) Your analogy using Major League pitchers to make your second point is, to be quite honest, beyond silly.
3) You question Carl Baehr’s parenting skills. That’s not a real good argument to keep his son off the All-Star team.
4) Carl Baehr admitted to me his son isn’t the best hitter. So what. I’ll bet some pretty good LL hitters couldn’t pitch either.
5) Thanks for the explanation about the All-Star selection process, and the insults. Truth is, you have no idea what Carl Baehr or I know about the process. I love the assumption that Devin’s stats might be wrong. And if you’ve got so many discrepancies with your scoring, I’d make it a top priority to develop a more consistent method ASAP.
6) So the All-Star has to purchase the special jersey. OK.
7) You write, “The FFL Complex is not public property and anyone wishing to distribute anything at the complex must get permission. Carl did not seek permission from our President or from any other Board member to hand out flyers. If I don’t agree with one of your blogs, would it be acceptable to you if I posted flyers on your front door, trees and car?”
Of course not. The proper procedure is to call the
8) More insults. And no one is knocking any of the other kids. Where the hell are you getting that from?
9) You question whether Carl Baehr is a role model or a man. Those are not reasons to deny making his son an All-Star. It also sounds like there are underlying negative attitudes about the father, so his son took it on the chin.
10) Can’t argue with your points about apathy. But I’m sorry. A meeting about the All-Star selection process in
Rest assured, I am attempting to speak to others about this, but I have another life. You’ve certainly provided another perspective.
I’m sure Carl Baehr is reading these blogs and has seen your heartfelt parenting advice delivered respectfully without condescension.
Again, thank you for reading and responding.